Steve Young is complimentary of Colin Kaepernick’s skills and abilities as a player, but he believes the young quarterback has a lot of developing to do, especially after receiving such a big contract extension from the San Francisco 49ers.
“This is a complete commitment, but I don’t know that they had a choice. He’s been so successful early. It’s quarterback-driven league,” Young said on ESPN’s “NFL Live” Wednesday in response to the 6-year, $126 million extension Kaepernick is receiving from the 49ers.
Young, who was known for being an excellent passer who also was a great scrambler, believes Kaepernick needs to transition into becoming a pocket passer.
“This is a big moment for the 49ers entering the future. I think the challenge is going to be how he develops and how do they use him,” said Young. “Because guys with legs, they have to transition. It’s not about the legs; it’s can you develop into that guy who can orchestrate from the pocket. If he’s going to be like that, he needs to develop still. And then you’re paying him $61 million guaranteed — you have to expect that that’s going to be the development that takes place.”
Though Young recognizes how great of a runner Kaepernick is and how effective it has been for him, he emphasized the importance of Kaep becoming a pure passer.
“That’s the thing — he’s so effective (as a runner). I didn’t run for 180 yards in a playoff game! The things he’s doing, you want to say ‘keep doing that!’ But I’m of the belief — and until I’m proven wrong I think it’s the truth — you have to win from the pocket. That’s the NFL truth. And people that try to bend that truth — Randall Cunningham, myself, others — you get straightened up to the truth. You have to deliver the ball out of the pocket effectively out of the huddle.”
Young continued to touch on those principles and emphasized that becoming a pocket passer is a “very difficult process” and that Kaepernick will have to be committed to it. He called it a long, boring challenge that a lot of guys are not willing to do.
He’s probably right, and I’m sure both Kaepernick and the 49ers believe the transition will take place. Many quarterbacks evolve into pocket passers because they realize you can’t scramble in the NFL without taking a beating. Kaep is a smart guy and will recognize that. But don’t get overly critical of him as a passer; he’s a good quarterback and is definitely a franchise QB. He’ll prove it. And he will eventually become more of a pocket passer, just as most good running quarterbacks become.